Education Reform Lacking in Oregon

Another legislative session has ended, and Oregon’s K-12 students have once again been used as pawns to influence the political agendas of many special interest groups. K-12 education funding has been increased 11% this legislative session, but no real education reform will occur. This continual call for more and more money for Oregon’s K-12 educational system with miniscule to non-existent change or improvement is not acceptable.

In 2017, a public education review by WalletHub analyzed each state’s K-12 public schools in the areas of performance, funding, safety, class size, and instructor credentials. Oregon’s overall rank was 43 out of 51 (50 states including the District of Columbia). This ranking system is consistent with many others that rank Oregon’s public schools among the bottom 10 in the nation. Oregon has a poorly performing, unsafe and moderately costly K-12 public education system. This system fails far too many of our students and their families. We must do better.

I am the son of a retired Air Force sergeant/public school janitor and a homemaker. I was the recipient of great public education. I had excellent K-12 teachers, received world-class post-secondary education, and earned a B.S., Ph.D., and M.D. for very little financial cost. Everything that I have been able to contribute to life is due to the great public education that I received. Every Oregon child should have the same opportunities that I did.

What does K-12 education reform look like? We need a longer school year with more instruction time each day. Art, music and physical education should be back in the classroom, not just talked about. Our teachers should be from the best of the best with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in their subjects of instruction. We need to continue developing a robust career technical career education track allowing students to prepare for well-paying, well-respected jobs in the construction of and managing our infrastructure and in manufacturing what the world needs. K-12 education savings accounts should be allowed, giving families of moderate and low incomes the option of selecting public charter schools that their children can attend, an option that only wealthy families currently enjoy. This is real K-12 education reform.

Real K-12 education reform will require new legislative leaders, unafraid of taking on the powerful special interests that care more about their constituencies than Oregon’s children. We will only be able to elect such leaders if we pass sensible term limits for our legislature. This allows us to replace our stymied legislators with new, better and passionate leaders.

Let us pass term limits for a brighter future for Oregon’s children.

The Dignity of Work

Today we are celebrating Labor Day, a day set aside to celebrate the hard work and achievements of America’s workers. We are celebrating the backbone of what makes our communities the strength of our society.

What does work mean? Work means sharing the load of society, contributing to our communities. The dignity of having a job and access to basic health care are the two most important factors if you wish to be healthy. Prepare yourself to be able to work, if you wish to be spiritually, mentally, and physically healthy. Have proper education and training, maintain your fitness, and not misuse drugs or alcohol. Remain engaged in life and culture, work as long as you are able, if you wish to age well. The secret to a long and satisfying life is to work, to contribute, to have a purpose and to participate. It is through work that ordinary people can accomplish the extraordinary, as they demonstrate their special talents.

My work as a physician has meant that I have spent all of this Labor Day weekend being available for and taking care of my patients. I am a bit tired, but satisfied, as I have done my best. There is great satisfaction in using all of my talent, energy and abilities in the service of others, in pitching in.

If our government wishes to truly serve the people of Oregon, it must keep its eye on the target that prepares and supports Oregon’s citizens in the dignity of their work. This requires great education and training and retraining of Oregon’s citizens. Oregon needs an abundance and variety of jobs. There should be support and encouragement of entrepreneurs, business owners, and their workers.

Let us do away with our indifference when citizens become unable to work and our unwillingness to help and encourage people to re-enter the workforce, to once again become strong, independent and contributing.

Use this Labor Day to celebrate our opportunity to work, to contribute, and to truly live!